NFL Sunday Night Football Picks: New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys

New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys
AT&T Stadium – Arlington, Texas
Sunday, September 13, 2015, 8:30 pm Eastern, TV: NBC
Opening Line: Dallas -6
Current Line: Dallas -7
Opening Total: 49 1/2
Current Total: 52
Opening Money Line: Cowboys -255 / Giants +215
Current Money Line: Cowboys -285 / Giants +235

Dallas is a heavy favorite against the New York Giants Sunday night.
Dallas is a touchdown favorite against the New York Giants Sunday night.

The Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants renew their rivalry in the first Sunday night game of the year in Arlington. The Cowboys have won four straight games in the series, including 31-21 and 31-28 last year. Dallas will make the trip to New Jersey October 25.

New York is coached by Tom Coughlin. The Giants went 6-10 last year. Since winning the Super Bowl in 2011, the Giants have missed the playoffs in the last three seasons. New York went 2-2 in the pre-season this year.

Dallas is coached by Jason Garrett. The Cowboys went 12-4 last year and won the NFC East. They would lose at the Green Bay Packers in the divisional playoffs. Dallas went 1-3 in the pre-season this year.

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The Giants were #10 in total offense at 367 yards per game, including 267 passing and 100 rushing yards. New York was #7 in passing and  #23 in rushing. The Giants averaged 24 points a game.  The defense was terrible last year allowing 376 yards per game, including 241 passing and 135 rushing yards. The Giants were #29 in total offense and #30 in rush defense. The Giants allowed 25 points a game. The Giants were -3 in turnovers.

Quarterback Eli Manning is back after throwing for 4,410 yards with 30 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, and also rushing for a touchdown. Manning rebounded from a terrible 2013 in which he threw 27 interceptions. He signed a new contract extension earlier this week. Manning has started 178 straight games dating back to 2004. Only Brett Favre and older brother Peyton have had longer consecutive games streaks in NFL history.  However, if something were to happen to Eli, Ryan Nassib is the back-up. He threw only 5 passes last year.

Running back Andre Williams is back after rushing for 721 yards on 217 carries with 7 touchdowns, along with making 18 catches for 130 yards as a rookie last year. Rashad Jennings is also back after rushing for 639 yards on 167 carries with 4 touchdowns, plus 30 catches for 226 yards. The Giants also signed free agent Shane Vereen from the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. Vereen had 96 carries for 391 yards and 2 touchdowns, and he also made 52 catches for 447 yards and 3 touchdowns. Fullback Henry Hynoski will also get a few carries.

The lone bright spot for the Giants in a miserable season last year was the breakout performance of rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. Despite missing the first four games of the season with a hamstring injury, Beckham still made 91 catches for 1,305 yards with 12 touchdowns. Beckham claimed he played in those games with two torn hamstrings, but the Giants say they were just strained. Either way his numbers were incredible and he was both the AP and Football Writers’ offensive rookie of the year.

Former Pro Bowl wide receiver Victor Cruz tore his ACL last year. He looks to return healthy in 2015, after making 23 catches for 337 yards and a touchdown. However, he is out Sunday with a calf injury.  Rueben Randle returns to his more comfortable spot as the #3 receiver after making 71 catches for 938 yards and 3 touchdowns last year. Tight end Larry Donnell had 63 catches for 623 yards and 6 touchdowns last year. Preston Parker had 36 catches for 418 yards and 2 touchdowns. Back-up tight end Daniel Fells had 16 catches for 188 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Eight defensive players are listed on the injury report. Four safeties are on injured reserve. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul is out indefinitely after mangling his hand in a fireworks accident on the Fourth of July.

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Last year, Dallas averaged 384 yards per game including 237 passing and 147 rushing yards per game. The Cowboys were #7 in total offense. The Cowboys were #2 in rushing behind only the Seahawks. Dallas was #5 in scoring at 29 points per game. The Cowboys gave up 355 yards per game on defense including 252 passing and 103 rushing yards per game. The Cowboys were #26 in pass defense, but #8 against the rush. Dallas allowed 22 points a game. The Cowboys were +6 in turnovers.

Quarterback Tony Romo completed 69.9% of his passes for 3,705 yards with 34 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. He is probable with a back injury. Brandon Weeden is the back-up. He is also probable with a concussion.

Running back DeMarco Murray led the league in rushing despite playing the last month of the season with broken bones in his off hand. He would not miss a game. He rushed for 1,845 yards on 392 carries with 13 touchdowns, and also had 57 catches for 416 yards. Murray signed as a free agent with the rival Eagles in the off-season.

Joseph Randle, Lance Dunbar and free agent signee Darren McFadden will likely split the carries as the Cowboys will go with a committee approach to replace the production of Murray. McFadden played in all 16 games last season for the first time in his career for a terrible Oakland Raiders team. He rushed for 534 yards with 2 touchdowns and also made 36 catches for 212 yards. Randle had 51 carries for 343 yards with 3 touchdowns last year for the Cowboys. He was arrested during the season last year for shoplifting. He was fined by the team but not suspended. Dunbar rushed for 99 yards last year on 29 carries, and also made 18 catches for 217 yards. McFadden has struggled to stay healthy consistently during his career so far. Dallas also traded for Christine Michael from the Seahawks.

Dez Bryant signed a four year contract extension after the Cowboys put the franchise tag on him. He had 88 catches for 1,320 yards with 16 touchdowns. He is one of the best receivers in the league. Bryant is probable with a hamstring injury. Tight end Jason Witten had 64 catches for 703 yards and 5 touchdowns. Terrance Williams had 37 catches for 621 yards and 8 touchdowns. Cole Beasley had 37 catches for 420 yards and 4 touchdowns. Back-up tight end Gavin Escobar had only 9 catches but 4 of them went for touchdowns. Devin Street will also get a lot of targets.

Sixteen players are listed on the injury report. Most of them are probable though. Linebacker Rolando McClain and defensive end Greg Hardy are both serving four game suspensions. Cornerback Orlando Scandrick is out for the season with a torn ACL.

New York is 2-5 ATS on fieldturf, 2-6-1 in September, and 0-4 in week one. The last five agmes in this series have gone over the total.

Dallas is 5-1 ATS overall, 4-1 against NFC teams, 6-2 in week one and in September, 1-4 at home and 1-5 on fieldturf. The last six games in Dallas in the series have gone over the total in this series.

Dallas has their issues on defense, but they are nothing compared to the Giants’ problems on defense. This should be another high scoring game. Dallas should feast on the defense and I like the Cowboys to win comfortably.

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